Dan and I watched TBoBB on Sunday and the extra footage on Monday. I had heard what an inspiring movie it is, and I believed it, but I thought it would be preaching to the choir. Ok, so it was, to some extent, but sometimes the choir needs to hear it again with a different voice so that our desire to spread the word can be renewed.
Oh, how I wish that this film had been available before I gave birth to Griffin. It might have changed the way I approached his birth - I might have trusted my instincts to drive farther and pay more for a birth center birth, or, who knows, it might have freed me from my fear of homebirth sooner. If I had seen it during my pregnancy with Reese, I might have had the guts to follow my intuition and make plans for a homebirth. (I should have done this right about the time that I started hoping that my labor would go so fast that I'd birth on the interstate rather than in a hospital, because at least then nobody could tell me to do things that cause trouble during labor/birth.)
My first two births were, by most people's standards, good ones. The thing is, most people's standards reflect a really and truly messed-up view of birth that has infected our country's consciousness. When did we start thinking that it's desirable to put birthing women in foreign surroundings, with people they don't know well, who "help" them in ways that interfere with birth? Why do we fear birth so much? Why have we overlooked the transformative nature of birth - not just the event, but the process itself? Why are healthy women bearing healthy babies handing our trust not to people who see normal birth every day, but to surgeons who are trained to help with abnormal birth and who have relatively little (if any) experience with normal, healthy, unhindered birth? I'm as guilty of this as the next woman - I believed that birth belonged in hospitals. Even after learning that homebirth was equally safe, I chose an OB practice for my second birth because at the beginning of that pregnancy, homebirth freaked me out. In the end? My OBs in Charlottesville were nice guys who meant well and said all the right things, but honestly, didn't know how to attend a birth without interfering with it. Nice hospital, nice practice...for a pregnancy/birth that required a hospital birth. I should not have been there.
EVERY person I know could benefit from this film. There's a feeling among some that men can skip the birth stuff, or that women not yet ready to think about babies don't need it, or that people past their childbearing years no longer have to think about it. The thing is, what has happened to birth in our country is a travesty, and it will take ALL OF US to make it change. Even if we're done having babies, the way we think about birth affects the way we tell our stories, the type of support we give to other families, the type of things those people who hear us will pass on to other people. We can either use language that supports and encourages normal birth, or we can use language based in ignorance of normal birth, which supports a fear-based, abnormal birthing paradigm. We can build a culture that supports mothers rather than scares them. To quote Barbara Katz Rothman, "Birth is not only about making babies. Birth is about making mothers ~ strong, competent, capable mothers who trust themselves and know their inner strength."